Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) gestures as he speaks to members of the media during the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2021.
Erin Scott | Reuters
Is Sen. Ted Cruz now going to be known as “Flying Ted”?
Social media erupted early Thursday with multiple photos purportedly showing a masked Cruz boarding a plane in Houston and then flying to Cancun, Mexico even as millions of his fellow Texans froze because of historically low temperatures and widespread power outages.
Hours after thousands of posts on Twitter shared those photos, other images showed someone with the Republican’s last name and first initial of his legal first name — Rafael — standing by for a flight from Cancun back to Houston later Thursday morning.
NBC News repeatedly reached out to Cruz’s office about the images, but has received no response.
Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who lost a close Senate election to Cruz in 2018, blasted him during an interview Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Cruz “is vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve,” said O’Rourke, who for month in 2019 had campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
On Tuesday, Cruz had tweeted — in response to an article criticizing him for mocking California’s own power outages months ago — “I got no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good.”
In December, Cruz had criticized Democratic officials who did not follow their own coronavirus pandemic restrictions, including Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler, who himself flew to Mexico for his daughter’s wedding in November even as he urged Austin residents to stay home.
“Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites,” Cruz wrote in his December 2 tweet.
Former President Donald Trump, while running against Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination contests, regularly derided him with the scornful nickname “Lying Ted.”
But Cruz later became an ardent Trump supporter, and last month unsuccessfully tried to get Congress to reject the confirmation of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victories in several states.
That confirmation process was interrupted Jan. 6 by the invasion of the Capitol complex by thousands of supporters of Trump. Five people, including a Capitol police office, died a result of that riot.